It’s A Grind: Tanzanian Peaberry

It’s so gentle.

It’s … sensuous.

I have to tell you, this is the last thing I would have expected from a coffee. The way it caresses the palate, it’s like the soft fingers of your lover giving you a slow, thorough body massage, eyes smiling every time you look. Brimming with love. Hot, steamy, and relaxing at the same time.

Okay, this is starting to sound perverted. Let me back up.

Tanzania, where the beans originated, is an African country formed when Tanganyika, its mainland part, joined with the Zanzibar islands off its east coast. After uniting they became the United Republic of Tanzania, who not only kicked Uganda’s invading butt in 1979, but within its borders hold the remains of the earliest humans to walk the Earth.

If that wasn’t enough to make this country cool, they grow the sexiest coffee I have ever tasted.

Smooth and velvety, this It’s A Grind‘s Tanzanian Peaberry is mild but rich in flavor. Naturally sweet tones lace through a touch of almond and warm woody notes. Drinking it is seriously like getting that lover’s massage.

This is excellent coffee and most definitely a groovy brew.

It’s A Grind: Blend 49

It’s ten at night and I’m drinking coffee.

Two reasons: 1) I haven’t posted anything on this side of GroovyBrew since August 10th and that is way too long, and 2) I love coffee. What can I say?

Besides, caffeine doesn’t keep me awake anymore. It just doesn’t. I’m immune.

I discovered It’s A Grind by chance. One of their stores is right across the street from the Chinese restaurant where my writers group meets. After the meetings I usually wander to the Starbucks next door, but one day I realized the place across the street was another coffee shop. I kept meaning to go there, yet, I kept not going.

Then, high on Valium and on my way back from an MRI, I directed my daughters to aim the car at the building and said, “I want to try their coffee!”

I picked up two of their blends, and tonight I’m trying the one they call “49.”

It’s bold and fruity, with warm chestnut notes, and a smooth but dusky aftertaste. Not fall-off-your-chair outstanding, but very decent and flavorful. I’d classify it as a morning coffee, or a coffee to have with ice cream on a Saturday afternoon. The acidity I’d say is low to medium.

And with that, I’m off to bed.

Coastal Bean’s Jamaican Blue Mountain

The last time I’d tried Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee I had been disappointed. This is infamous coffee, legendary, with a lot of hype behind it. So one day I bit the bullet and splurged, and remember thinking … this is it? This is the legend?

Of course, back then I thought Gevalia was the utopian source of gourmet coffee. I’ve learned a lot since then.

My new friends over at fixed me up with some real Jamaican Blue Mountain. At first sip, though, again I thought this is it? I really didn’t see why people considered it so special.

It wasn’t bad. Not at all — indeed, I found it very tasty. But did it live up to the hype? No.

At least, not at first.

This coffee has what I call “seriously delayed bloom.” You don’t get the full range of the flavor in the first sip. You can’t judge it in the first minute. I daresay you can’t really judge it with the first cup.

As it turns out, this is indeed a marvelous coffee. It starts out as a mild, flavorful brew that reminds me somewhat of Kona but with a hint of something else, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

It’s that “something else” that’s the foreshadowing of a far greater flavor. The more you savor it, the more that “something else” blooms, growing in intensity and enchantment. If this coffee were music it would be Ravel’s Boléro, starting as a simple lilting melody and building seductively to full orchestration.

The taste itself is hard to describe. You first get the initial warm, mild roast flavor, with only a low acidic tang, and as time passes it continues to caress your palate with a nuttiness that hints of macadamia and almond. Soft, smoky tendrils start working their way into the pleasure center of your brain — it’s at this point you realize something special is going on with the coffee. Suddenly it starts hinting of winey notes, some outstanding vintage that you’ve only tasted in your dreams. Your cup by now is empty, and you immediately have to have another one, because the flavor is still going, still pulling your forward. More, it tells you. There’s more to come. We’re not finished yet. So you have that second cup, and then the third, and still you’re discovering new nuances. Chocolaty tones emerge, and a fruity edge.

That’s where I am right now, and the flavor is still giving surprises.

I see what the big deal is. I understand.

According to what I’ve read, what makes this coffee so special is the place where it’s grown. The Blue Mountains of Jamaica have a combination of soil, climate, and thick mountain mist which combine to create one of the most perfect places on Earth for the beans to flourish.

Because of the popularity and demand for this coffee, it’s one of the most expensive. Because it’s expensive, it draws the less scrupulous entrepreneurs, many who will blend a coffee to taste somewhat similar and sell it as the real thing — making a large profit at your expense. That’s why if you’re actually willing to shell out the money for these beans, you need to make sure they’re genuine.

Coastal Bean’s supplier is the Wallenford Estates of Jamaica, which is apparently the most sought-after source of Blue Mountain beans. They come with a certificate of authenticity, much like one you’d get with a signed lithograph from a famous artist.

While this coffee is … well, what it is, a coffee with a serious pedigree … I have to admit I’d hesitate buying it for myself. Maybe as a treat once a year, or to celebrate a special occasion. I mean, it’s freaking expensive. However, if I were looking for a gift for a coffee loving friend, then this is the first thing I’d buy.

Nothing says “I love you” like a diamond, or golden jewelry, or Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

Irony, Starbucks Style

After my writer’s meeting tonight I stopped by Starbucks for a latte, and noticed the cup was advertising a movie called Arctic Tale. It showed a mother and cub polar bear with the inscription, “The change in their world impacts us all.”
Off to the side is posed the question of what we can do at home to fight global warming. Their answer: “Launder half our clothes in cold water.”
Below that was printed: “Careful, the beverage you’re about to enjoy is extremely hot.”

Dunn Bros 20th Anniversary Blend

I’ve gushed several times about the wonderfulness of Dunn Bros and how they roast their beans right there in the stores.
Yesterday morning I met my friend and fellow writer Bill at the Frisco location, something we usually do on weekends when he’s not busy and I’m not out of town for six weeks. We were talking about how remarkably good the Dunn Bros coffee always was, and he said, “I just had a cup at Starbucks before I came here, and this is … it’s far better!”
So it’s not just my imagination. I like Starbucks too, but you have a cup over there, and think to yourself how good it is … then go to a Dunn Bros and have a cup. It’s a shock to the palate when you think you’re drinking something really good and then have something that is another level of better.
Which brings me to the subject of their 20th Anniversary Blend. Just before leaving, I picked up a bit just so I could take it home and review it properly. So here I sit, sipping, smiling, happy, drinking a coffee so remarkably flavorful that I’m blown away.
In blending this coffee, they went for the Great Middle Way. Nice and strong but not too strong. Jump and shout flavorful but with a depth of subtleness, a complex flavor that you have to meditate on and sort out. Toasty nuttiness with chocolate notes, extremely smooth, and a wonderful aftertaste that holds you like a lingering, loving embrace. And yes, love is part of the flavor. They very lovingly crafted this coffee and you can taste that love, you can feel it. It’s part of the recipe.
The only proper word that comes to my mind to describe this coffee is exquisite. That, my coffee loving friends, is not a word I normally use.

Coffee Is Good For You [UPDATED]

I have lots of good news for us coffee drinkers.
For years the coffee industry has been forced into a defensive stance, barraged as it’s been about supposed health risks of the drink. But lately, due to improved study methods and increased focus on the chemicals involved, researches have not only refuted many of the earlier negative claims, but have discovered significant health benefits in the drinking of coffee.
Moderation is the key. Too much of anything — including water — is bad for you. But a moderate amount of coffee, two to four cups a day, can improve your health. We’re not talking decaffeinated here, either, but the pure natural brew.
New research has found:

  • Coffee increases alertness and improves the brain’s thinking power (uh, yeah, we know this one).
  • Coffee contains a significant amount of antioxidants which help prevent cancer. Studies have specifically shown people who drink coffee are 25% less likely of developing colorectal cancer.
  • The combination of coffee and exercise may raise the body’s ability to resist skin cancer by up to 400%.  <- New Finding
  • Women who drink coffee reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 33%.
  • Coffee can help alleviate asthma by 25%.
  • Coffee can diminish the craving for alcoholic beverages.
  • Women who drink coffee are 65% less likely to commit suicide.
  • Men who drink coffee are 40% less likely of developing gallstones.
  • Coffee drinkers show an 80% reduction in risk for cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Drinking coffee reduces the risk for Parkinson’s disease two- to three-fold.
  • Coffee actually improves physical stamina.
  • Coffee helps diminish headaches.
  • Coffee has been shown to reduce tooth decay by slowing the growth of the bacteria that causes it, as well as preventing these bacteria from adhering to tooth enamel.

Also studies have shown that coffee does not, as previously thought, cause or contribute to cardiovascular disease. In fact, these studies have shown that coffee drinkers are 30% less likely to develop it.
Another reversal of popular belief, it’s been shown that coffee has nothing to do with bone loss.
So rejoice! Fire up that coffee pot! Revel in your morning dose of coffee.
It’s good for you.